BY BILLION TEMESGHEN | ERITREA PROFILE
Tiffany Haddish’s reunion to her country of origin has been a talk of a great deal in the past days. Tiffany was in Eritrea accompanied by her friends and colleagues some of whom are: Selena Martin, Dwayne Martin, Dionne Wynn and Precious Jackson.
We talk to them today in trying to know Tiffany from their perspective. After all, these are the people who’ve shared the walk with Tiffany for a number of years. Moreover, we opt to get a scoop on their thoughts and experiences in Eritrea.
My name is Dionne Wynn. I am old enough to be your mother. I have a daughter and grandsons. I am a makeup artist. I do makeup and hair and sometimes I supervise that department for movies and TV productions. I have made my career my life. It has been 20 years now.
When did you meet Tiffany?
I have known Tiffany for 20 years; we have a family connection. To know her is to love her, she is very contagious. She has a very strong work ethic and we connect most for it because that’s something we have in common. Usually, she is down pretty for everything; this shows she is very versatile and can work in different aspects. She can be rough but she is also a character with a lot of empathy and can do anything she set her mind on. From meeting her the first time and now a rising star is very gratifying. She works hard, she perseveres and now is enjoying the fruit of her hard work. Tiffany is the type that really loves and empowers her people.
You were there when Tiffany met her family in Asmara. Was it emotional for her? Can you please describe the moment for her?
The people here are full of love. I think it is some sort of tradition. So that warmness did make Tiffany feel welcome. I am happy to see her find where she belongs and where she comes from. She feels safe. So, I was happy to be here and see Tiffany rejoice in meeting her extended family. After all, if you don’t know where you come from, how would you know where you’re headed to?
What about you? How do you feel to be in Eritrea?
I pay a lot of attention. People here are brotherly and extremely loving, they are hardworking and humble. But I have loved every part of my trip to Eritrea. For me, since this is my first time, it’s still an adjustment. I am an American, what can I say? You don’t know what to expect because it is a new experience for you.
However, if I am to come back a second time, I would be more attentive, I would have my eyes open and enjoy more. But I believe Eritrea is full of amazing and super sweet black people. The President pulled lettuce from the ground and gave us each a piece. That is so beautiful. We went to him Saturday morning and, wow, that man has wise words. I am all ears when any one of color is sharing words of wisdom because that is legacy. I try to live legacy where ever I go. I loved the Red Sea. One of Tiffany’s aunt is a dancing machine, she must have said ‘I love you’ more than ten times to each of us. You are an extremely welcoming people and your country is just so beautiful. This was a very educational trip, I am coming back, and all I want to say is thank you Eritrea!
My name is Precious Jackson and I am 35 years old. I am a hair stylist, I have been doing it for over 15 years. I own my own salon in California. I have owned it for 9 years so far. I have a daughter who’s 13 years old; she is my pride and joy. She is also the reason why I work hard. I want her to grow up wanting to work for her own dreams rather than to be working for others.
When I was little my father run three businesses, so he inspired me the same way I want to inspire my daughter. I have been here in Eritrea with Tiffany. I did my research before coming to Eritrea. I read about your culture and the way you eat. I read of how you got your independence in 1991 but it didn’t take effect until 1993. I loved my stay. I am so glad I came and I am definitely coming back.
You mentioned how important it is for someone to own their dreams. But is it really achievable where you come from? How is it in the United States? Is it easy for just anyone to be a business owner?
There is a lot of competition. But of course it’s easy if you make it easy, that’s what I always say. In the US if you pass the first two years being resilient you can sustain for more years doing anything you want. There is a lot of competition in the field I work in, but I always believe I have a unique specialty and so I’ll always try to shine in it despite hurdles I might face. But of course, the challenges are quite of a number.
How do you know Tiffany Haddish?
I have known her for over 10 years now. She walked into my salon. A mutual friend of ours introduced her to me and we instantly became friends. I have been doing her hair ever since. Seeing her grow over the years is so memorable for me because I remember how she would just come to me rushing asking me to do her hair real quick for maybe a commercial or something. And now to see her as an actress and comedian on the main screen… it is just impressive.
You were there with Tiffany at the time she met her father again as a grown up and later his passing. From your perspective, how did she handle bidding her goodbye?
She handled it in two ways. Like any other daughter mourning her father, she did feel devastated of course. To feel her hurting, it made me hurt because I don’t want my friend to hurt. The loss of her dad did hurt her. On the other way, Tiff tried to find an inner strength to just go ahead and do her job. That is what Tiffany is really all about. She is a professional. In few words for me, Tiffany is like a diamond. She went under so much pressure and still finds a way to shine. She is amazing!
My name is Dwein Martin. My wife is Selena, Tiffany’s best friend, so Tiffany is like a sister to me. I have known her as long as I have known my wife since 2001. I have seen Tiffany going through a lot of struggles and coming on top each time. She is very successful as of late but this is a short journey. I have seen her putting hard work and dedication for many, many years. She has always maintained her integrity, never compromised herself to gain fame or anything. Therefore, I know she has a long way of success awaiting her. Her journey is honorable.
Do you know Tiffany’s father?
I did have a chance to meet him. He is a proud man. He told me so much about Eritrea’s struggles, history, and culture. He was a man of respect. I met him around 2006 or 2007 when Tiffany got married. I had never heard of Eritrea until Tiffany’s father gave me a deep insight with pride. Tiffany always has been vulnerable to him. She loves him unconditionally. Seeing Tiffany finally achieving what she always wanted and coming to Eritrea and make roots with her family makes me extremely happy for her.
How is it to be in Eritrea?
I have been surrounded by genuine love and respect. People call each other ‘brother’ and they have called me so too! I felt a sense of brotherhood I’ve never felt in L.A. I did tell many people that I would love to come back. This feels like a second home.
I am very proud to see people of color being owners of their own destiny. Everybody is on the same page, no discrimination, and you respect each other no matter what differences you have. I mean, it is just so inspiring to have spent time in getting to know the Eritrean people. Everybody knows about the history of the country and is proud of it. I see none but a bright future for the country because I can see people really work hard for it.
The government is keen on building infrastructures for the future. We met the President of Eritrea in the dam this morning. He is humble and down to earth. I had nothing but respect for him because I like people who do things in front and not behind the computer.
To me, he definitely seemed like someone who’s out there no matter what. He grabbed my heart as a person. I am honored to have met him. I can tell even the people around him have great love and respect for him. It was unspoken. He is like a George Washington. A living legend.
And it’s sad that not a lot of people know about your country, history, your people, and government. I am going to tell everybody I know back home to forget what they’ve read and that they should know Eritrea for what it really is.
When I told people I was coming here they were scared for me. Like I would not return home alive. But the truth is I’ve never felt any more safe being amongst a society that speaks languages I don’t even understand. I really hope good things for the country. I love the architecture, I love the people and I love just everything.